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How to talk to your kids about Puberty?

Taking care of your child as a baby suddenly starts seeming much easier when you begin to anticipate your child’s adolescence phase. Will my child be able to cope with the new changes in their body? Will I still be able to share a good bonding with my child? Will I be able to support my teen through this phase of their life?  As a parent it is absolutely fine to have these questions bothering you about your teen. In fact, adolescence can be a testing time not just for the teens but also for the parents. It is almost as if you and your teen are to sail through a turbulent river, and you are the captain of the ship who is supposed to stay calm and supportive while you take your child safely across the river.  The responsibility of guiding the ship can look daunting  sometimes, it is easier said than done…staying calm and supportive at the same time sounds easy but is it really possible to practice this in your actions is a question a lot of the parents would ask..  Most of the times, parents are mainly worried if their teenagers are receiving the right information about their bodies,and if they are making healthy choices for themselves during this period.

To answer our previous question, staying calm and supportive during this phase is definitely possible if you develop a healthy communication about puberty with your teens.   When To Talk: Puberty starts at a different age for different people, so parents might be confused about when exactly should they have ‘the talk’ with their adolescents.

In reality, there can be no perfect timing for it, but it is good to watch out  for early signs of puberty- like growth spurt,acne, active sweat glands which is common for both boys and girls. Breast growth in case of girls, and deepening of voice, growth of facial hair in case of boys. The talk doesn’t have to be a single long talk, rather it is suggestible to start talking about puberty and adolescence early and walk your child through it slowly and gradually.

What to Talk: As parents you can all try to recall what kind of questions you wanted to have answered as an adolescent yourself. This can give you an  idea of what you really need to talk about. Very importantly, as parents you need to explain all the bodily changes that your child is going to go through as an adolescent. Name the body parts that are going to change and also be specific about what kind of changes those body parts will go through. You can also explain the ‘bigger picture’, try to answer why these changes happen scientifically, but remember, don’t make it sound scary for your teens.

How to talk: It is very possible that your child already knows some things about puberty, though what they know might not be necessarily correct. An easy way to start the conversation could be by asking your teens what they already know. It is important to make the conversation sound very easygoing just like you would discuss about your adolescent’s favorite actor, favorite film or a favorite book. This would help the adolescent in understanding that puberty is an obvious phase in life and there is nothing scary about it. Understand that the teens might feel like an ‘Odd Man Out’ in this phase because you as parents are not really ‘with’ them undergoing the same changes like them. It is thus natural for the adolescents to feel awkward to talk about puberty with you. Show a lot of empathy, be supportive and allow your teen to confide in you about their fears and doubts. Also, remember to respect your child’s questions and worries,even if they look irrelevant or trivial to you!

Talk Emotions too : Hormonal changes in the body during puberty bring about several emotional changes in an adolescent. Do not forget to talk about these changes with your child. Address the irritation, anger that they might go through. Adolescence is a period when teens can develop a low self esteem because of their changing body appearances.Assure your child that this is a passing phase, and make them feel positive about their bodies. Compliments and assurance helps a lot!  Puberty is also a phase where teens can have sexual thoughts and feel attraction. Instead of maintaining a ‘taboo’, it is always healthy to tell your teen that it very normal to feel such attraction. It is necessary to talk about sex, let them know what is safe,unsafe, healthy and unhealthy for them!  By Soniya R.

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